Is Inviting Numbers of People to Church More Important Than Building Relationships?

Question from a Reader:

Your blog on multilevel marketing, absent the money, can also be applied to the way some churches view and do evangelism. When church growth is your most important metric, that affects how you view and do outreach. I’ve heard it expressed like so: “See how many people you can invite to church.” Or, “I invited five people I met on campus last week to church on Sunday.” My question to them is, “What did you get to know about them?” I’m talking about what I might call the commoditizing of evangelism, the idea that our main goal is to make new disciples whose immediate first goal above anything else is to make even more disciples. Like a perpetuating disciple-making machine. This sounds great in theory. But in practice, what does it look like? It looks like a church where numbers are the greatest measurement of true growth. It looks like a church where Sunday morning Bible study classes simply don’t happen, because edifying/teaching mature members is a much lesser priority.

I have no problem with evangelizing. But isn’t it important to show people what Christ’s life was like, rather than doing a “come to church” sales pitch? Isn’t there something more important than how many doors you knocked on or event invites you’ve distributed? Like getting to know people?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

I hear you on this. I think you’re right that it can and sometimes does go this direction. The only balancing thing I can say is that it could be healthy for a church’s leadership to say to members, “Pray and look for opportunities to talk to three people you already know about Jesus this month. If it seems a good fit, invite them to our church or our special outreach or women’s ministry/sportsman’s banquet (or whatever). But first and foremost, seek to build a relationship that is the ground upon which you invite them to church. And meanwhile seek to build relationships with people who need Jesus and when the time is right, ask God to help you introduce them to the gospel.” I think that would be great.

But yes, when it’s reduced to mere numbers and the point is church growth rather than people hearing the good news about Jesus, that’s not healthy. Good thoughts.

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Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries